Exapansions for big RPGs can be scary- for many, it means needing to add some new shiny toy to play with, lest players wonder why they’re getting the expansion at all.
And yet, the new Beyond the Dawn expansion seems completely confident in its ability to deliver a Tales of Arise experience without needing to shake things up too much. Rather than try too hard to shoehorn in some new feature and risk the delicate balance of Tales of Arise’s good blend of gameplay and story, Beyond the Dawn just gives you another window to hang out with these great characters.
Starting Beyond The Dawn
So it should be noted that you don’t actually have to beat Tales of Arise to start Beyond The Dawn. While the game takes place chronologically after the events of the game, it exists as a kind of expand-a-lone, and you start with the party set to level 65 regardless of what you were on your main save. I kind of wish more games did this- considering how much of Beyond The Dawn focuses on a new character, giving new players a chance to go straight to the content with that character without having to commit to Tales of Arise is a good touch.
In exchange for not having your level 100 Shionne and Kisaras bearing down on some unworthy goobers, there are rewards for having maxed out characters. But these feel more like Bandai Namco Entertainment giving you a wink and a nudge rather than any kind of game-breaking feature, so if you’re really interested in Beyond The Dawn but haven’t finished all the endgame content for the base game I don’t think you’d need to feel like you’re missing out too much.
Reunited And It Feels So Good
As you’d probably have guessed from the trailers, a good chunk of Beyond The Dawn focuses around the new character, Nazamil. While she’s not a playable addition to your party, a lot of the game’s story and events revolve around her, so a lot of your enjoyment of the DLC will revolve around your tolerance of her constantly being a downer.
That’s not to say her story itself isn’t good- it’s one of a character learning to accept the love of the people around them. But admittedly, having someone who just sits there and bemoans how alone she is in the world when she doesn’t even have the decency to help you do your combos can be a little frustrating.
On the other hand, the returning characters are just as good as they’ve ever been. Alphen and Shionne’s chemistry is still incredibly endearing, and being able to do the team up attacks still feels incredibly satisfying. It’s kind of nice getting to see everyone after their stories are done- sure, we’re not doing major quest things but seeing everyone’s idle chatter is just a fun time.
A lot of Beyond The Dawn will really bank on your enjoyment of Tales of Arise as a result- you’re strictly here just for revisiting this world and its characters. Even the plot feels significantly lower stakes than the base game, with what you’re doing feeling closer to an epilogue than “The next big adventure”. While some people might not be happy with a considerably lower-stakes gear for a JRPG I’m glad it’s not racing against its own main story- the events of the base game still get to be this Big Thing That Happens, while the DLC chooses a more demure route.
It’s Just Good To Be Back
At the end of the day, Beyond The Dawn is a great little epilogue story for the otherwise complete Tales of Arise. Everything about it exists in service of the main game, rather than some attempt to build a new game on top of it. I’m especially a fan of the Rebuild quests- basically quests where you can contribute to the efforts to rebuild the towns, complete with visual feedback of things getting less rubbish over time.
As a mechanical experience though, I can understand any reservations about picking it up. Aside from more content, Beyond The Dawn does very little to challenge what you can actually do in the game- it’s not like Nazamil suddenly adds a new mechanic that you’ll need to master to take out new enemies. Given how many other titles will add a new move or a new system or party members, it’s easy to wish that Beyond The Dawn would do the same- and be disappointed when it doesn’t.
Instead, what you do get is a chapter that feels entirely appropriate for Tales of Arise. Unlike many DLCs that have you asking where they fit into the game, Beyond The Dawn’s complete understanding of what it is makes it just feel like a fun endgame experience about tying up loose ends, bonding with your friends and occasionally doing stylish combos.
DLC reviewed on PS5. Code provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia